Facebook’s CEO Stoked Washington’s Fears About TikTok

Mark Zuckerberg as he arrived for a House hearing on Capitol Hill in October.

Photo: erik s. lesser/EPA/Shutterstock

When Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg delivered a speech about freedom of expression in Washington, D.C., last fall, there was also another agenda: to raise the alarm about the threat from Chinese tech companies and, more specifically, the popular video-sharing app TikTok.

Tucked into the speech was a line pointing to Facebook’s rising rival: Mr. Zuckerberg told Georgetown students that TikTok doesn’t share Facebook’s commitment to freedom of expression, and represents a risk to American values and technological supremacy.

That was a message Mr. Zuckerberg hammered behind the scenes in meetings with officials and lawmakers during the October trip and a separate visit to Washington weeks earlier, according to people familiar with the matter.

In a private dinner at the White House in late October, Mr. Zuckerberg made the case to President Trump that the rise of Chinese internet companies threatens American business, and should be a bigger concern than reining in Facebook, some of the people said.

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